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Leaked document shows how Russia plans to take over Belarus

21 Feb, 2023
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Leaked document shows how Russia plans to take over Belarus

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Russian authorities have drawn up a detailed plan of how the Kremlin plans to establish full control over neighboring Belarus over the next decade under the pretext of a merger between the two countries.

As European Truth reports, journalists got access to an internal document called "Strategic goals of the Russian Federation in Belarus", which prescribes the phase-by-step full accession of the Republic of Belarus to the Russian Federation by 2030.

Yahoo News, Süddeutsche Zeitung, WDR, NDR, Delfi Eesti, Expressen and Independent, VSquare and Frontstory projects, the Dossier Center and the Belarusian Investigative Center, participated in the investigation.

According to the 17-page document, issued in fall 2021, the end goal is the formation of a so-called Union State of Russia and Belarus by no later than 2030. Everything involved in the merger of the two countries has been considered, including the “harmonization” of Belarusian laws with those of the Russian Federation; a “coordinated foreign and defense policy” and “trade and economic cooperation … on the basis of the priority” of Russian interests; and “ensuring the predominant influence of the Russian Federation in the socio-political, trade-economic, scientific-educational and cultural-information spheres.”

The strategic document is divided into two parts. The first lists Russia's goals in the short-term (2022), medium-term (2025) and long-term (2030) perspectives. They are divided into three sectors: political, military and defense, humanitarian and trade, and economic. The second part of the document defines the risks associated with the objectives.

Everything related to the merger of the two countries is considered, including the "harmonization" of Belarusian legislation with the legislation of the Russian Federation; "coordinated foreign and defense policy," and "trade and economic cooperation… based on the priority" of Russian interests; "ensuring the predominant influence of the Russian Federation in the social-political, trade-economic, scientific-educational and cultural-informational spheres".

In practice, this means eliminating all remnants of Belarus' sovereignty and relegating the country to the status of a satellite of Moscow. This will make Belarusians dependent on the Kremlin's priorities: agriculture, industry, espionage, or war. And this will pose a security threat to Belarus' European neighbors, three of which - Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland - are members of NATO and the European Union.

According to one Western official directly familiar with its development, the authorship of the strategic document belongs to the Office of the President of the Russian Federation for Border Cooperation, a subdivision of the administration of President Putin, which was created five years ago. The actual task of this relatively innocuous-named administration is to establish control over neighboring countries that Russia considers to be within its sphere of influence: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.

For example, the document advocates "the formation of pro-Russian sentiments in the political and military elites and the population" by 2022, and at the same time for "restricting the influence of "nationalist" and pro-Western forces in Belarus." It also provides for completing the constitutional reform in Belarus, which will be based on Russian priorities. Such reforms correspond to what has already happened in Belarus over the past year.

The document also describes how Russia's military presence in Belarus will be expanded, in particular through a joint command system and Russian weapons depots.

By 2025, the strategic document says, there should be "sustainable pro-Russian groups of influence in Belarusian politics, the army, and business." He also advocates the expansion of the Russian military presence in Belarus and the introduction of a simplified procedure for issuing Russian passports to Belarusian citizens.

Another aspect of Russia's slow takeover of the state is the introduction of a single monetary currency. Although the document does not directly say it will be the Russian ruble, the implication is evident given Russia's hegemonic role in these relations.

Much of Russia's strategy for Belarus focuses on what the document calls the "humanitarian sphere," a euphemism for the Russification and control of the country's civil society. One of the stated long-term goals is doubling the number of Belarusian students studying at Russian universities or "opening new centers of science and culture" in the Belarusian cities of Mogilev, Grodno, and Vitebsk.

These centers will be branches of "Russian Cooperation," - a Russian cultural and educational organization that formally works under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. However, Rosspivrobotnitsvo is a notorious clearinghouse for Russian intelligence and agents of influence, which significantly simplifies Moscow's ability to recruit Belarusians into its security agencies.

By 2030, according to the strategic document, Russia should have "control over the information space" and should create a "unified cultural space" and a "common approach to the interpretation of history" in Belarus.

One of the key results in this area is the predominance of the Russian language over Belarusian, which has already been largely achieved. The Russian language is enshrined in the Belarusian constitution as one of the two state languages. According to the 2019 census, more than 60% of Belarusians said that Belarusian is their mother tongue, but more than 70% of the country's residents said they also speak Russian at home.


The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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